Japan and Australia have reached broad agreement on strengthening bilateral security ties, including the joint development of defence equipment that could pave the way for Tokyo to supply Canberra with stealth submarine technology.
The accord was reached in "two plus two" talks here yesterday between the foreign and defence ministers of both countries. Specifically, the two countries agreed to conduct joint research into the hydromechanics of ships.
If all goes well, a formal treaty is expected to be signed when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Australia, possibly next month.
Canberra is reported to be looking to replace its fleet of stealth submarines at a cost of up to US$37 billion (S$46.2 billion), a potential deal that would boost Japan's defence industry, in addition to enhancing bilateral economic and military ties.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera represented Japan in the talks with their respective Australian counterparts, Ms Julie Bishop and Mr David Johnston.
The talks, the fifth of their kind between the two countries, were last held two years ago.
Yesterday's talks were a follow-up to a meeting between Mr Abe and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott here in April, when they agreed to beef up security ties, including cooperation in developing defence equipment.
A joint statement yesterday said both sides were "strongly opposed" to the use of force to unilaterally change the status quo. This was an apparent reference to China's increasing naval activities and skirmishes with countries in the region over territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.